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Paying attention

I can tell myself to focus a million times a day, and still abandon an important task for the next shiny thing. This has a name—ADHD— and I got a healthy dose of it when the genes were handed out. It’s a constant battle to slow down and pay attention. Even putting groceries away is a challenge - I will take something to the pantry, see the jumble of boxes and instead of continuing to put groceries away, stop to reorganize the shelf. Meanwhile, the frozen goods are melting, the milk is souring, and my produce is developing patches of mold. Not exactly, but you get my point.

Interestingly, when I do focus, I hyper focus. I completely lose track of time at the easel. It’s the same when I'm writing. My creative juices are flowing and I’m being swept away in the current. I have to set a timer to remind me to STOP. Sometimes, the only thing that will bring me out of the weird universe of the right brain is my bladder. My brain may think its capacity is unlimited, but my bladder capacity is most definitely not.

The Christmas season poses a unique set of challenges for me. Did I remember to get that gift? What about wrapping paper? I’ve got cards to send, but I’m off making cookies. Which kind do I make first? Biscotti? Christmas cut outs? Instead, I’m off making fruit cake. I hear a collective ugh. It's not what you think. The recipe I inherited is delicious. My mother may have gotten it from her grandmother, but I really have no idea how old it is. What I do know is it’s not the nasty bricks of unpalatable baked goo that have given fruit cake a deservedly bad name. I’ll pass on the recipe below.

But back to the topic de jour. See? I started with writing about the frustration of having ADHD and ended up writing about fruit cake. Somehow totally appropriate. I’ve done much of my shopping on Amazon this year, gift sacks and tags included. It’s convenient for me, and greatly simplifies things. Yet as I think about past Christmases and the hubbub of getting ready for the holiday, I suddenly find myself overwhelmed with sentiment and filled eyes. I miss the days when we gathered on Christmas Eve for a feast, when dessert was a cake and we sang happy birthday to Jesus, when Ron read the Christmas story from Luke, when our little girls put on plays and kept us well-entertained. (Stop it, eyes, I can’t see to type!) We enjoyed such a rich time together, but life moves on and so do traditions.

Instead of being with family at home this year, we will be dining with gracious Florida friends who are hosting a “Christmas Orphans” get together. I’m looking forward to the day, but I know it won't be the same as being with family. We are so fortunate to have the kind of family that loves being with one another and I remind myself that many people have never enjoyed the richness of a holiday steeped in tradition. I can make myself miserable thinking of what I’m missing or choose to enjoy each moment no matter who I am with or where I am. After all, Christmas is about the greatest gift, God’s love, and that is what’s truly important.


In a large bowl, sift together:

4 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg


24 ounces (1 1/2 pounds) whole pecans

3/4 pounds chopped candied pineapple

3/4 pound whole candied cherries

1 cup golden raisins

(Substitute dried apricots for some of the fruit if desired.)

Mix fruit and nuts in flour mix until well coated. Set aside. Cream 1 cup butter and gradually add 2/14 cups sugar. Cream until light and fluffy. Add six large eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add 3 T brandy flavoring. (I add vanilla and real brandy.) Add to fruit mix and combine until well mixed. (this will be very thick). Line a 10 inch tube pan (or two bread pans) with foil. Put the batter into the pan. Bake at 275 degrees for 2 3/4 to 3 hours. (I don’t think I ever baked this more than 2 hours when in bread pans, but it should be golden on top and thoroughly baked in the middle.) The original recipe calls for brushing with light corn syrup and decorating with fruits and nuts a half hour before done.

And now, a poem!

ADHD CHRISTMAS (loosely to the Overture of the Barber of Seville)

I cannot find it. Where did it go?

I know that it was right here

just a sec ago.

The list was in my hand,

and then I laid it down

and now I’ll have to make

another if it doesn’t show.

So many presents! Have I spent

too much? I try so hard to make

things equal so the kids won’t fuss.

Oh, no! I did not buy the

nuts that make the cake and I

need at least a dozen eggs

for goodness sake!

Oh, look, it’s snowing! The

flakes are huge! Where did

I put my keys I thought that

they were in my purse!

I have to go to town and

put more money down

to buy the things I

should have sent over

a week ago.

Now is the time of the year when I’m in a dizzy state,

the days are short, the house a mess, needles falling

off the tree, it refuses to stand straight I check the lights,

but they are dark I buy two strings and hope they’ll last

more than a year, something breaks, a favorite ball,

tiny pieces on the floor it happened last year and the one before.

Will the gifts get wrapped the cookies baked?

The tape is gone, I’m out of ribbons, tags, and bows

I’ve surely lost my mind, I need more time, a glass of wine,

I hear a song, Christ is born,

I am happy, I am worn,

give me wine, I am fine—

‘Til next year!

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